For each of the featured games, typically Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football slates, this column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks for today. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown picks to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 18 Saturday Night Football slate featuring the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Dallas Cowboys.
DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Picks Week 18 Saturday Night Football
Dallas will be without half of their defense tonight with their pass coverage being particularly thin with cornerbacks Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and safeties Donovan Wilson and Jayron Kearse staying in Dallas. Linebackers Micah Parsons and Francis Bernard also are not making the trip to Philadelphia. Michael Gallup is out for the year with a torn ACL, left tackle Tyron Smith and fullback Francis Bernard are in the health and safety protocol and Tony Pollard is dealing with a foot injury all of which thins out the offensive depth.
Philadelphia had a dozen players land on the COVID-reserve Monday, though they do have a chance of being available if they meet the revised testing parameters. This information may not become available until later this afternoon. Since this is a home game, there is no travel status to provide hints. The players in this group are running backs Boston Scott and Jordan Howard, tight ends Dallas Goedert and Jack Stoll, guard Nate Herbig, defensive backs Marcus Epps, Rodney McLeod, Avonte Maddox, linebackers Genard Avery and Alex Singleton and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Running back Miles Sanders (hand), guard Brandon Brooks (chest) and linebacker Davion Taylor (knee) are all out as well. Offensive linemen Landon Dickerson (thumb) and Lane Johnson (knee) are questionable.
Dallas can finish the regular season as high as the second seed, with the fourth seed already being locked up. If they win tonight they still need varying combinations of the Rams, Cardinals and Buccaneers to lose. Considering that Philadelphia cannot improve their playoff position and with seemingly half the team out or questionable, they may just hand this game to the Cowboys in preparation for being at full strength for Wild Card Weekend.
Dak Prescott will likely see at least three quarters of action, though there are a variety of paths that lead to him being pulled earlier in the game. Considering how thin the Philadelphia defense looks to be tonight, Prescott could easily have 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns by halftime. We are all saddled with the same player pool and unknown variables, which still make this an interesting single-game slate.
Ezekiel Elliott likely will see at least most of the first half action with Tony Pollard back in Dallas with his foot injury. More intriguing however is former Eagle running back Corey Clement likely sharing the workload with Elliott and having a path to significant fourth quarter mop-up duty. The Awesemo projections have Elliott looking at 15.6 carries for 68.2 rushing yards and a 47% chance of finding the end zone. Clement is slated for 9.4 carries and 40.9 rushing yards and of course he is the most fungible option if this game is out of hand since he is unlikely to see the field in the playoffs if both Elliott and Pollard are healthy.
CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper should be able to roll up the fantasy goodness against the decimated Philadelphia defensive backfield. They are also likely to get a quick hook if Dallas can get out to a comfortable lead considering that Michael Gallup was lost for the season with a knee injury last week. Cedrick Wilson will be working in as the third wide receiver with Malik Turner and Noah Brown unlikely to see much action, even if the game is out of hand.
Dalton Schultz continues to impress and he gets a couple of designed plays each game, which is something that only happens with elite tight ends. In his last seven games he has at least 43 yards or a touchdown in six and fewer than five targets just once. In the nine games without Blake Jarwin, Jeremy Sprinkle and Sean McKeon have combined for eight targets.
Dallas is going to be shorthanded on defense, though depending on which Philadelphia offensive linemen are out and who is under center, there could be some fantasy opportunities.
Jalen Hurts may very well get the night off as he has been nursing a variety of injuries down the stretch and he is going to be the only salvation for Philadelphia when they head on the road for Wild Card Weekend. Although head coach Nick Sirianni is being cagey, it makes the most sense for him to ride with Gardner Minshew under center from the jump. Even if he doesn’t start, he is likely to get the majority of the snaps tonight. Actually it would be better for the savvy DFS gamers if Hurts does start and we can turn to Minshew as a tournament winning gambit.
There is a decent chance that one of Jordan Howard or Boston Scott are able to clear the health and safety protocol and be available for this game. Miles Sanders is out again so the one healthy option is rookie Kenneth Gainwell who has one carry and two targets over the last three games. Simply by being healthy he is a core play tonight … ugh this game is going to be a disaster.
Rookie DeVonta Smith likely will see the least amount of playing time as the best Philadelphia wideout in preparation of next week. Having Minshew at the helm actually does bode well for Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward. If Smith is not starting or inactive, we could even have a J.J. Arcega-Whiteside appearance tonight.
Similar to Smith and Hurts, there is no reason to risk Dallas Goedert tonight even if he clears the health and safety protocol. If Jack Stoll is still on the COVID-reserve, undrafted rookie Tyree Jackson will be the last man standing by default. This year he has played in eight games and has two targets.
In their last four games, Dallas has allowed a dozen sacks and a pair of interceptions. Philadelphia is missing five defensive starters tonight, though most of their key reserves are available. Think of this like a preseason game.
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Saturday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy
The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those taking the MME approach, remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.
Week 18 Saturday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings
Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Dak Prescott: Seems to have the best path to 20 fantasy points.
- Corey Clement: It is going to be that kind of game.
- Gardner Minshew: Even if Hurts starts, how much will he play with the Eagles playoff seeding locked in?
- CeeDee Lamb: Envision something along the lines of 70 yards and a score in the first half, anything more is gravy.
- Boston Scott, Jordan Howard and Kenneth Gainwell: Ideally one of Scott or Howard is healthy, if both are available lean towards Scott. If both are out, Gainwell is a core option, if both are healthy drop Gainwell to the bottom of this section.
- Amari Cooper: Less explosive than Lamb, similar potential for 70 yards and a score, likely to be placed in bubble wrap by halftime.
- Jake Elliott: 28 of 31 this season and nailing all three from beyond 50 yards and he has yet to miss an extra point.
- Ezekiel Elliott: Maybe he gets an early touchdown, hard to expect much if Dallas gets out to a lead.
- Dalton Schultz: Tight ends have been having a field day on prime time slates this season.
- Greg Zuerlein: Can he really be called Greg the Leg or Legatron anymore after making just 5 of his last 14 from 50 yards out and missing eight extra points over the last two seasons?
Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Cedrick Wilson: Salary algorithms got ahead of the Gallup injury, however he is still a viable option since salary really doesn’t matter tonight.
- Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor: Should see the field on most plays and they have a chance for production if Sirianni lets Minshew activate DGAF mode.
- Dallas D/ST: Healthier than the Philadelphia D/ST.
Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Greg Ward: Always seems to turn up in the box score during the final few games of the year.
- Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson: The nod goes to whomever is starting as it would be foolish to risk a Goedert injury.
- Philadelphia D/ST: They will be on the field, which is more than we can say about their key skill-position players.
- Malik Turner and Noah Brown: Opportunities are dependent on when the Dallas starters are pulled from the game.
- Cooper Rush: Legitimately in play, but needs a lot to break his way to get enough snaps.
- Jeremy Sprinkle and Sean McKeon: over/under is 1.5 combined targets.
- Jalen Hurts, Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith: It makes no sense for the Eagles to risk them prior to next weekend. Treat tonight like a preseason dress rehearsal game.
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